On a flight to Dallas I fell in love–with a book. I read THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY, by Gabrielle Zevin, in one giant gulp and found myself laughing, crying, and then laughing again, all uncontrollably, in the baggage claim area of DFW while I waited for the my ride. The novel was so sweet and so charming that I was immediately swept off my feet. And then it managed to do the impossible and be deep and profound as well. I’ve been telling people about it ever since.
THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY is the story of a widowed book seller who finds new love and new life when a stranger leaves a surprise package in his struggling bookstore one afternoon. But the novel is more than that. It’s a love song to books and those who sell them. It’s filled with the joy and wonder and laughter that stories bring to our lives. It’s a winsome look at one man’s life and the power of the written word, the hope found in community, and the simple grace of loving another human. To me this was the book that completely restored the joy of reading.
We’re giving away five copies of THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY thanks to Algonquin Books. See the entry form below for details.
The official summary:
In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books–and booksellers–that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.
On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.
A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island–from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
A.J. Fikry himself would be delighted if you supported your local independent bookseller and purchased your copy from a brick and mortar establishment. Signed copies are available at Book Passage. They would happy to ship your copy. Also, we will be speaking with Gabrielle Zevin about THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY tonight at 7:00 EST in a live phone-in conversation. There’s no cost to join and we would love for you to be there!
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Gabrielle Zevin has published six adult and young adult novels, including Elsewhere, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book, which has been translated in over twenty languages. She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (starring Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart), for which she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. She has also written for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered. She lives in Los Angeles. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is her eighth novel and was published this month by Algonquin in the US and by Little, Brown in the UK (as The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry). It will also be published in 18 other languages.